"Darkness has fallen across the world" – President Higgins calls for end to violence in Ukraine 4 months ago

"Darkness has fallen across the world" – President Higgins calls for end to violence in Ukraine

"The hearts of the Irish people go out to all of those who are suffering from this completely unacceptable, immoral and unjustified violence."

President Michael D Higgins has issued an emotive statement concerning Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, which has entered its sixth day as of Tuesday (1 March).

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"That we have returned to war, the abuse by the powerful of its neighbour, the flagrant violations of the principals of the United Nations, a great sense of darkness has fallen across the world at the unfolding tragedy in Ukraine," President Higgins' statement began.

"The hearts of the Irish people go out to all of those who are suffering from this completely unacceptable, immoral and unjustified violence.

"Our television screens carry images of all those mothers and babies crossing borders in order to flee the mayhem which is being inflicted upon them by an invading powerful neighbour operating with total disregard for the principles of international law, and of those brave Ukrainian people struggling to defend their homes and their country.

President Higgins went on to declare that the violence "must stop" and urged Russia to withdraw its troops.

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"The rise of militarism must end," he added.

"Full humanitarian access must be given to all civilians in need. Every glimmer of hope through diplomacy must be seized."

Citing a recent example, the president highlighted humanity's "significant axis of co-operation" in global agreements on climate emergency and a commitment to sustainable development goals.

"Now, as we hear reports of the perilous level to which the planet has come, in some aspects near irreversible, we must not allow ourselves to be mired in militarism.

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"I call on those inflicting this violence to reflect on that great principle that is lodged in the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and its affirmation that 'recognition of the inherent dignity, and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family, is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.'"

Noting that these are challenging times for diplomacy, President Higgins urged the people of the world to unite against further conflict.

"I call on everyone to use the tiny glimmers of hope which we have seen to bring this dreadful nightmare to an end and restore peace," he concluded.

The president's statement arrived shortly after Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney asked the people of Ireland to "open up their homes" where possible to incoming Ukrainian refugees.

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Coveney said he expects as many as 20,000 refugees, who will be granted the right to live and work in the EU, could arrive in Ireland soon.